Coleman Hawkins: Bean Stalkin'
At the Opera House (Verve 073145216412)
Composed by Coleman Hawkins.
Recorded: live at the Civic Opera House, Chicago, IL, Sept.-Oct., 1957
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
A period of renewed interest and recognition for the influential saxophonist Coleman Hawkins began in the late '50's. His stimulating encounters with trumpeter Roy Eldridge, both in concert and on recordings, were an important part of Hawk's reemergence during those years. The Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts in the Fall of 1957 (from which the equally significant Stan Getz & J.J. Johnson at the Opera House was also derived) followed Hawkins and Eldridge's heralded set at the Newport Jazz Festival that past July.
"Bean Stalkin'" is a delightful Hawkins original that he wisely recorded more than once. In this version, the two horns are ably backed by the MJQ minus Milt Jackson, but the power of Bean and Little Jazz overwhelm the rhythm section's contributions. The riffing central theme and its bridge are played in unison by the frontline, with the tenorist's sound dominating the trumpeter. Eldridge takes the first solo and—now free of Hawkins—simply soars. With a relentless flow, high note excursions, and growling/slurred articulation, he creates a very passionate and unaffected improvisation. Hawkins succeeds him with a gruff, hard-edged staccato attack, building artfully and adding urgent riffs as he gathers steam, his thematic phrasings gradually expanding in length. He and Eldridge then engage in a rather competitive and exciting series of exchanges, with Roy hitting some screeching high notes that only serve to up the ante between the two, as well as nearly stepping on Hawkins' toes before he can finish a thought. This is definitely not some tired, going-through-the-motions, JATP track.
Reviewer: Scott Albin